Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Giant corruption trial kicks off in Malawi

30 January 2014, 07:49

Blantyre - A senior Malawian civil servant and two construction executives went on trial for corruption on Wednesday, the first of dozens charged in the biggest financial scandal in Malawi's history.

Known as "cashgate", the case has led to charges against 68 state employees and executives accused of looting government funds to the tune of more than $20m.

Leonard Kalonga, who was chief accountant in the tourism ministry, is accused of defrauding the government through the unauthorised purchase of six luxury buses worth $1.3m. The buses were not meant for government use and it remains unclear what he planned to do with them.

Two directors of a construction company - Caroline Savala and Agnes Katengeza - also appeared accused of alleged theft and money laundering after they received payment from government without building anything.

The cases were adjourned to a later date.

"We have been looking for answers, and the answers can be found through the court proceedings," Information Minister Brown Mpinganjira told AFP as the hearings kicked off.

"I pray that they'll go fast so that Malawians can finally know what happened," he added.

So far authorities have tracked $20m in stolen state funds, said Mpinganjira, with rumours the final figure could be as high as $100m.

In some instances officials allegedly used a central government computer payment system to transfer money to ghost firms for supposed services. They then deleted the companies' information from the system.

Loopholes in payments system

The opening on Wednesday of the first trial in the case, which comes ahead of elections in May, drew a huge public turnout despite heavy rain.

The scandal led to the suspension of around $150m in foreign aid and has threatened President Joyce Banda's political career in an election year.

Banda has acted swiftly to restore her government's image, sacking her entire cabinet late last year and setting up an investigation into the allegations, which mostly implicate officials in her ruling People's Party.

These include the party's most senior official as well as Ralph Kasambara, a former justice minister arrested for money-laundering and conspiracy to murder after a corruption-busting official was shot outside his house last year.

Banda faces three prominent male election contenders including Peter Mutharika, a brother of the late president, during elections on 20 May.

Previously vice president, she came to power in 2012 following the sudden death of president Bingu wa Mutharika.

Her government has blamed "loopholes" in the payment system introduced when the late president started his term for the massive looting of public funds.

Prosecutors have said up to 30% of the poor southern African country's resources are plundered annually.

More arrests are expected when a probe backed by Britain and the European Union is completed, according to Mpinganjira.

"Everybody is waiting for the forensic audit report which will have good evidence of what happened and who was involved," he said.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...